Not even a steady drizzle on a cold and dreary afternoon could stop red-hot St. Raymond’s.
In Thursday’s 8-0 victory at Cardinal Spellman, the Ravens utilized the same recipe for success they have in what is now a six-game winning streak – tremendous starting pitching and timely hitting.
“Since we’ve gone on this streak, the pitching every day has been unbelievable,” St. Ray’s coach Marc Deluca said. “It always starts on the mound. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on situational hitting.”
The Ravens starters, whether its ace Anthony Colon, Brian Paulino, Julian Monserrate or Thursday’s starter Adam DeLaCruz, each try to one-up each other in the game within the game.
On Wednesday, Paulino allowed one run on two hits in five innings in an 8-1 win over Cardinal Hayes. DeLaCruz trumped him a day later.
“We try to be better than the other guy,” DeLaCruz said. “It’s competitive, but we’re all a family.”
The sophomore was outstanding Thursday in the complete-game shutout. DeLaCruz had control of his fastball and late in the game threw a breaking ball and change-up for strikes.
He had eight strikeouts and five walks, scattering six hits, remarkable considering how wet the conditions were at Spellman.
“I managed to keep my hands dry in the dugout,” DeLaCruz said. “It helped me out a lot with my breaking pitches and fastballs. I had good control.”
Spellman starter Malik Dixon did not. The right-hander, who tossed a complete-game gem in a 3-2 win against Monsignor Farrell Saturday, actually enjoyed a 1-2-3 first inning before giving up five runs in the second.
Dixon was victimized by a pair of errors, but the big blow in the inning was a three-run home run by St. Raymond first baseman David Sanchez.
“He’s finding his groove,” Deluca said of Sanchez. “He struggled a little bit and now he’s starting to hit the ball very well, making solid contact.”
Sanchez said Dixon left a high fastball over the middle of the plate, which he blasted over the fence in center. Dixon was chased in the sixth inning after giving up eight runs on seven hits, striking out four with five walks.
“The last few days I feel like I’ve been waiting back more for the ball,” Sanchez said. “I’ve been able to hit the ball well square off the barrel and take it the other way.”
Like Sanchez, St. Raymond (6-2) got off to a slow start this season. After back-to-back losses, DeLaCruz felt the Ravens were already being written off.
“It hurt for a little bit,” he said. “Everybody slept on us and said ‘Oh these guys are 0-2,’ but we managed to come back, get a little rally and we’re still going.”
Cardinal Spellman (5-3), ranked No. 10 in New York City by MSG Varsity, threatened to make things interesting in the fifth, loading the bases with one out. But DeLaCruz ended the potential rally with back-to-back strikeouts.
The Ravens tacked on three insurance runs in the sixth on an RBI single to right-center by Josh Vargas, a single to left by Orlando Collado and a Leo Bravo sacrifice fly to left.
“It’s a lot of fun coaching them right now,” Deluca said.
After taking on struggling Mount St. Michael Saturday, St. Raymond meets Fordham Prep in a battle of surging Bronx squads live on MSGVarsity.com. A win at Richmond County Bank Ballpark could really put the Ravens on the CHSAA map, but DeLaCruz knows St. Ray’s has more work to do.
“Every game we play we have something to prove,” DeLaCruz said. “Until we take the ‘chip, we’re nobody.”
Contact Dylan Butler at email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler